What Exactly is Bias?

What Exactly is Bias?

Here’s a reminder from Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts by Leslie Aguilar on the important subject of bias:

I’m sometimes asked if paying close attention to one’s words and nonverbal communication is simply being “Politically Correct.” My answer: “No, it’s about a different ‘P.C.’ It’s about being Professionally Competent’…being ‘Personally Conscious.’” And, it’s about respect. Bias-free, inclusive communication is both professional and humane – both competent and caring – and helps the message reach a diverse range of listeners.

Bias means a predisposition to see things or people in a certain way. You can be biased toward some people and predisposed to see them in a positive light. Likewise, you can be predisposed to see others in a negative light, based on their appearance, group kinships, or differences from you.

Bias is an internal belief. It is mental prejudgment, positive or negative, made about an individual. But it’s when you act it out in speech and behavior that others receive the full impact.

Today’s Leadership Solution is from

Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts

Communicating Respectfully in a Diverse World

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Just One Person…

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Walk The Talk Daily Motivation

Just one person taking action can inspire others to do the same.
~ Leslie C. Aguilar

Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts Today’s quote comes to you from Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts: Communicating Respectfully in a Diverse World.

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Guidelines for Stereotype-Free Communication

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Hi Friends …

Is my communication always bias-free? Am I equally respectful and effective with a diverse range of people – people who are similar to me and people who are different? Those are two interesting questions that each of us should ponder. And the true answers may surprise you.

Fact is, most people are naturally biased. And we have a tendency to let some of our biases slip into what we say and what we write by using telltale generalizations such as: “they” “them” “they all …” “men are …” “women typically …” “Asians are better at …” etc. The more that happens, the more everyone loses. Relationships suffer. Cooperation decreases. Our ability to lead or influence others diminishes. Those who feel “categorized” and excluded often drop out. They stop listening. They may even stop respecting us. And, all too frequently, our intended messages never get through.

The good news is that each of us can choose to communicate more effectively. We can identify our own biases, explore ways to reduce them, and work to communicate in more inclusive, bias-free ways. The excerpt below should help you do just that. It’s from Leslie Aguilar’s truly enlightening book Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts.

I encourage you to read it … share it … USE IT! This is not about being “politically correct” – it’s about RESPECT!

Lead well … LEAD RIGHT

Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts!
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Excerpt from Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts

Guidelines for Stereotype-Free Communication

Individualize. Treat people as individuals rather than as members of a set.

Avoid stereotypical jokes and humor – they are often demeaning and embarrassing to listeners.

Use accurate descriptions. Replace descriptors, clichés, and labels that rely on stereotypes with specific, accurate, and relevant words. “She reminds you when work is overdue” is more accurate and less stereotypical than “She’s a nag.

Depict people non-stereotypically in visuals. When using graphics or visuals, ensure that the images do not reinforce stereotypes. For example, use photographs depicting role models that include people of different ages, ethnicities, physical abilities, body sizes and gender rather than depicting all role models as tall, white men.

Solicit multiple opinions. If you are seeking information about a group of people, seek input from multiple sources. Avoid expecting one person to be a “spokesperson” for all members of a group simply because she or he is a member of the group.

Learn the “hot spots.” Be sensitive to common negative stereotypes about groups – this will help you understand strong reactions to a seemingly positive description. For instance, a person described as “poor but hard-working” may feel the sting of the unspoken stereotype that people are poor because they are lazy. How do you find out what the hot spots are? Listen! Observe! Ask! Friends or coworkers will likely tell you what stereotypes bother them, if you ask.

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